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The thylacine was supposed to be the saviour of 2021. When news broke last week that we might finally have piccies of a whole family of Tasmanian tigers, people were stoked. Now, the photos have been revealed and… we’re all a bit of a let down.

When he first announced the photos, Thylacine Awareness Group of Australia president Neil Waters claimed he had “proof” of a thylacine living in the wild, almost a century after the last known thylacine in captivity died. He then sent the evidence off to an legit expert who later concluded that the photos were probably of pademelons.

Now the photos are public, and it’s our turn to decide.

“Look at those little rounded ears and that broad head,” Waters said in the unveiling video, uploaded on Monday.

“Doesn’t look like any quoll I’ve seen before. Certainly doesn’t look like a cat.”

In the video, he spends a good 20 minutes analysing the four different photos and explaining why he believes the creatures in question are not other animals like feral cats and dogs.

He pointed to the third image as the most conclusive proof of the lot.

“The image that I am hanging everything on because I know what I am looking at here, and I’m certainly not looking at a pademelon in my opinion,” he said.

Waters even included a bunch of soundbites from vets who seemingly agree with him.

The only logical conclusion, Waters reckons, is that he’s got evidence of thylacines surviving – if not thriving – in the Tasmanian bush.

And sure. The creatures in the pics do kind-of look like the fabled Tasmanian tiger. But they’re not great pics to begin with.

However late last week, the expert who Waters himself touted as the definitive thylacine-identifier, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery conservationist Nick Mooney, said that the animals in the pics were “unlikely to be thylacines, and are most likely Tasmanian pademelons.”

Say what you will about the thylacine truthers’ hypotheses, but these pics are sadly so blurry and obscured that they’re not really proof of anything other than the fact we as a nation are enthralled by the possibility that  a coupe of Tassie tigers are still kicking on in the wild somewhere.

Just like evidence of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster and alien UFOs, these photos are basically a cryptozoological Rorschach test until we have more definitive evidence.

The truth might not yet be on YouTube, but it’s still out there.

Image: Thylacine Awareness Group of Australia